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What Was Your Self-esteem Like As A Xtian?


Kathlene
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Hi, I wanted to open up a discussion about self-esteem. I am particularly interested in seeing if anyone's has changed since coming out of xtianity.

 

I have struggled with low self-esteem my whole life. When I became a christian at age 22 not a lot seemed to change in that department, which is weird, cause the whole premise is that you gain new life, your meant to be in christ, blah blah blah. Im not sure why it didn't change...but for me I think it got even worse. I am a single-parent so automatically I felt condemned by christians. Even though technically I was separated and divorced blah blah before I became a christian. I could see a christians mind ticking when I met them trying to work out if I was a harlot or sinful person for divorcing whilst a christian. I would always explain that my husband and I separated and two months later I became a christian and he didn't want to get back together. As soon as I explained that I could see them sigh, and put me in the category of well thats ok then..your safe, I can associate with you. I once had a woman friend who invited me over for lunch one afternoon, and said she would check with her husband if it was ok. She came back and said no we can't. Now these people were very extreme christians and I knew their worldview...and I just knew without her having to say it that her husband didn't want her associating with a single parent. Trust me, there are people out there who think like that.

 

I spent my entire christian life feeling like I was on the outside of an elite group. My self-esteem hit rock bottom, and now I am out of it I am still struggling to find some sense of worth as a human being. Do other people feel this way? Is what I am feeling normal? I don't feel so bad in the being judged area. I feel like I want to tell the whole christian world to eff off with all their narrowmindedness and rules and judgements on people. It is the biggest cesspit of hypocrisy I have ever seen. I have seen pastors have affairs and not be remorseful and still sing to the tune of glory to god! I think once humans start to put you in a box of how you are meant to behave and what you are meant to say, wear and associate with, your life becomes seriously repressed and a complete joke. I am very embarrassed that I was ever like that.

 

So, did anyone feel they were a top human being as a christian?

 

How do you feel about yourself now you are not a christian in the self-esteem department?

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My self-esteem was very bizarre. All over the place I suppose.

 

I felt superior to unbelievers yet was intimidated by everyone (unbelievers included) and especially felt inferior to other men.

 

I thought I was a terrible Xian and a disgusting human being yet felt I was special to God and that he wanted me to do great things.

 

I felt like the wicked servant that had buried his talent in the ground, yet I believed I could do anything and thought I had a genius's intellect.

 

Overall though, I thought I was a bad person. I knew I wasn't a real person. I knew I was a phony. I felt I was never "good enough" at anything.

 

NOW...I think I'm a great person. I'm neither superior nor inferior, I'm a great human being, I'm not special, I don't need to do great things, I can do anything I want to do, I'm not a genius, I'm not a bad person, I'm a real person, I'm not a phony, and I'm "good enough" for me. I'm happy on a regular basis for the first time in my life.

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My self-esteem was very bizarre. All over the place I suppose.

 

I felt superior to unbelievers yet was intimidated by everyone (unbelievers included) and especially felt inferior to other men.

 

I thought I was a terrible Xian and a disgusting human being yet felt I was special to God and that he wanted me to do great things.

 

I felt like the wicked servant that had buried his talent in the ground, yet I believed I could do anything and thought I had a genius's intellect.

 

Overall though, I thought I was a bad person. I knew I wasn't a real person. I knew I was a phony. I felt I was never "good enough" at anything.

 

NOW...I think I'm a great person. I'm neither superior nor inferior, I'm a great human being, I'm not special, I don't need to do great things, I can do anything I want to do, I'm not a genius, I'm not a bad person, I'm a real person, I'm not a phony, and I'm "good enough" for me. I'm happy on a regular basis for the first time in my life.

I think you may have just described me Mark!!! How bizarre, cause that's exactly the way I used to think. Now I guess I am struggling to find where I fit in the world and my new value system...its all so strange. I think my biggest one was the bad person persona. It was like a heavy weight in my heart and brain..I always felt like I was rubbish and so bad to other people and especially to God. I felt like I would never ever be good enough for god. Now Im not so sure what I think of myself. Perhaps I can see a sliver of hope for me, that I am not all bad, just human like everyone else. I remember reading a xtian book once that said low self-esteem was just idolatry of yourself and that made me spiral even deeper into the shame cycle.

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As a Christian it was rock bottom. It is better now, but it is something I am working on everyday. It is a battle everyday. Even yesterday in a telephone conversation with someone, I realized how I was putting myself down. Occasionally something happens that is a set back, then I recover.

 

I don't see how anyone could feel they were a top human being when truly believing in a religion that says you are inherently and totally corrupt. The only way I can see it is if their particular type of Christianity did not teach that.

 

It is probably even harder for women, because they are taught to believe that men are superior and without a husband and family, they are even lower.

 

I am speaking from a background in the Baptist church.

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I hit rock bottom too. I had self-esteem as a backslider (one who still believed but tried to ignore the whole thing) but when I "came back" my self worth and career hit rock bottom. Just getting up every day was a struggle and I found myself constantly wishing I'd never been born at all. It was so bad I started drinking heavily and would then feel even worse.

 

What really pisses me off is that I gave up two good careers because I didn't stand my ground....thinking if hubby wanted to do something then god must be "leading" me to submit. That was bad for me and ending up being bad for my husband too....and now that can't be changed. I remember feeling "guilty" for those career accomplishments and the enjoyment I felt as a backslider.

 

Growing up it was clear to me that god liked boys better than girls and he didn't like them all that much either. I don't know if I'll ever get over that part, thinking men are "better" than women.

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My self-esteem was non-existent. My parents even taught me that there's no such thing as self-esteem and I think I remember them saying that it was a secular humanist point of view. I didn't know what a secular humanist was then, though, and I was still in elementary school at the time. I remember when I was little, I used to be confident in myself. I didn't take no for an answer, I was a pretty rebellious and freethinking kid, and I started questioning xianity and god's existence when I was around 4 or 5 years old. I still accepted the answers I was given, though, because I didn't know anything else. My parents sought to crush the rebellious and questioning spirit I had. They're the type of people who believe that children should fear their parents. I was always being told that I was rebellious, I was a spoiled brat, and I got lots of spankings and even things that could be construed as physical abuse done to me as a kid. As a result, I believed that everyone was better than me, sinner or not. I didn't have a sense of identity at that time and I tried to fit into different cliques in high school. I found that I couldn't completely fit into the stereotypes of any group, which isn't surprising because no one ever does. The group I found that I fit into the best was the misfits that were constantly judged and discarded by the popular kids: the Goths, geeks, and those who didn't have a label. They didn't answer to anybody, they didn't care what anyone thought of them, and they were themselves whether anyone liked it or not. I really admired that and it reminded me of how I was as a kid. I wanted to go back to that. I learned a lot in my Humanities and Government classes both of which were taught by the same atheist teacher, and my Latin class, about the roots of xianity and about how a lot of it was either borrowed from other cultures and religions or didn't hold up to scrutiny. It made me even more skeptical. I finally moved out of my parents' house and in with my fiance and my parents judged that, of course, but I didn't care. I was finally free to make my own decisions without fear of punishment or chastisement and I've tried to make the most of it ever since. I stopped going to church and youth group shortly after that and didn't want anything to do with religion. It was after watching the documentary Religulous that I decided that religion really is destructive and I didn't want any part of it ever. It inspired me to read the bible and make my own decision about it and after I read a few bible stories that were really gruesome and thought about how irrational the entire religion was, I denounced god and became an atheist.

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My self-esteem was horrible as a Christian. I come from a family where anyone who wasn't Christian enough or perfect enough in their eyes was judged harshly. They still do that. I just chalk it up to crazy religion now and do my best to ignore them.

 

My self-esteem is much better now.

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It's always been low. It hit rock bottom after I deconverted, some of it having to do with actually deconverting (the rest of it being the shit I had to suffer through in ninth grade, on top of Concerta). Before then it was already almost non-existent, and none of it had to do with Xtianity.

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Well,it's still kinda low,but now that I don't have to blame myself for "having lustful thoughts" or other xtian mental BDSM-issues it got better.

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So, did anyone feel they were a top human being as a christian?

Most definitely not. I was taught to be humble and self-sacrificing, which was very bad when I tried to get a job. I had learned to not lie, not steal, and all the other "nots." And I always thought I was doing something wrong against God anyway.

 

How do you feel about yourself now you are not a christian in the self-esteem department?

Empowered, strong, definitely must stronger.

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which is weird, cause the whole premise is that you gain new life, your meant to be in christ

 

Actually, the entire premise is that you are nothing but a disgusting worm who must be covered in the blood of christ in order that god can withstand you in his presence. It stands to reason that this perspective will give any thinking person pause in the esteem department.

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Wow.

For me this is THE question, and perhaps my biggest beef with regards to my upbringing in a Reformed Baptist church. Here I am now at 46, looking back, seeing all of my problems and how so many of them were rooted in self-esteem issues. My self-esteem was/is horrible, although I am working on it daily, attempting to undo all of the damage that was done. In all honesty I actually believe that it is an issue I will never completely be able to resolve properly simply because the damage was done at the most crucial time of my development in life. When a child grows up and from the moment he enters this world is told that he is a worthless sinner, is taught that he can do nothing good in and of himself, is taught that he has no control of his life, is taught to be "meek," accepting, and subservient, is taught to constantly "turn the other cheek," is taught that even to doubt is a sin... For people like me who have an artistic temperament, and who maybe do not have the biggest physique, let me tell you... It's devastating. Looking back I can so clearly see how this teaching had drastic negative effects and caused me so much grief. I had so much of my life stolen from me because of these beliefs about myself. The crazy thing is... I actually now don't even see those things as being something that Jesus taught, Paul maybe, but not Jesus. I wish my parents had listened to some of those "secular humanists."

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Self esteem, then and now? This is a huge topic for me as I have struggled with self esteem issues since childhood.

 

As a Christian, I felt unworthy, bad, less Christlike than others, like a big sinner and a fake. I attributed everything good that happened to me to god. I believed that everything bad that happened to me was because I wasn’t a good enough Christian.

 

As an atheist, I feel relieved. I was born into a totally fucked up family and I was neglected and occasionally abandoned as a child. I still have huge self esteem issues that stem from that and from my failed efforts to be loved as an adult. However, there is some good news in this!!!

 

In spite of my childhood baggage, I feel better about myself than I have ever felt. I have had some success in some areas of my life. I put myself through college as an adult while working full time and being a single mom to my nephew. I graduated with a 3.957 (can you tell this still bothers me? :) ) in my Bachelor program and a 4.0 in the Masters program. I have a large number of very good friends and a very fulfilling social life. Some of my friends were church goers but thankfully I have a lot of friends outside of the church environment. I’m not a beautiful woman, but I attract a fair amount of male attention. I attribute this to my outgoing personality and my rather risqué sense of humor. I have had career successes in the past.

 

My point? I now realize that in spite of my rocky childhood, I have been successful in many areas of my life. I did it - by myself. No god, no spouse, no one else. Just me. Whatever successes I have had were because of what I did. And, you know… that feels pretty damned good!!!

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I have more self esteem now that I have left xtianity than I did when I was in. Now I can look people in the eye when I talk to them instead of feeling like I'm lying through my teeth everytime I told them about Jezus. I'm proud of myself for kicking the cult habit.

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My self-esteem was horrible as a Christian. I come from a family where anyone who wasn't Christian enough or perfect enough in their eyes was judged harshly. They still do that. I just chalk it up to crazy religion now and do my best to ignore them.

 

My self-esteem is much better now.

 

 

I can relate to that, only mine was the Catholic version. The RCC took the guilt of a Jewish mother and turned it into a fucking art form. In Catholic school we were constantly reminded of what worthless little sinning pieces of shit we were. After dumping religion I have never had better self esteem. Anyone in here who was a "cradle" Catholic will understand exactly what I'm talking about. That's why confession is so important in the church. It's how they maintain the unending guilt trip, by making you realize how worthless and wrong you are; that you never deserved your first breath upon being born.

 

The Bastards.

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I'm just replying so I can find this later when I have time to tell my story.

 

To sum it up, My low self-esteem was the root of all my problems in life. Once I started working on that, I started asking the tougher questions which led to my deconversion. There is no way a xian can have have a healthy self image. It is either in the gutter from scripture or falsely inflated from fellowship with the cult.

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It is probably even harder for women, because they are taught to believe that men are superior and without a husband and family, they are even lower.

 

I am speaking from a background in the Baptist church.

 

Same here. How can you have a normal level of self-esteem when the "best" and most "inspirational" preachers basically just stand up there and yell about how awful you are? We're all sinful, we all disappoint gawd, we're all just complete scum.

 

Xtians love jesus the way a battered wife loves her abuser.

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